• Background South West

  • Overview


    Home to Lucozade, New Look and the National Trust

    The South West has an economy of £95 billion

    The best region to work and live in! (according to the Financial Times)

    26 million tourists visit the South West each year

    The South West has the second largest Creative Industries sector outside London

    The South West’s total workforce consists of 2.25 million people

    14.3% of the workforce here is in Manufacturing

    Home to 4 world heritage sites, including Stonehenge

    Did you know?

    – 13% employed in Health and Social Work
    – Wholesale trade and retail is the largest employer
    – Around 7% of the region is employed in health services
    – Agriculture and mining is in decline
    Tourism plays a key role in the region, especially for Devon and Cornwall
    – The number of people employed to build boats in Devon and Cornwall is increasing
    – There are over 32,000 businesses in the environmental and land-based industries



    The aerospace industry has always been a big employer in Gloucestershire, in fact 11,000 people work in aerospace related jobs. These job roles can vary from designing Airbus wings to manufacturing military jet engines. Gloucestershire doesn’t just manufacture airplane parts though; it has plenty of jobs in electronics, packaging and motor vehicle component manufacture.

    If you fancy yourself as the next James Bond, you might be interested to know that Gloucestershire is home to a Ministry of Defence Headquarters that employs 7,000 people.

    21% of South Gloucestershire’s working population actually commute to Bristol, probably because it is the second wealthiest city in England, behind London and offers a huge amount of career opportunities.

    This county also has great educational and training prospects; over 80% of its 16-18 year olds are doing one of these forms of learning.

    Key Sectors: Aerospace, Public Services, Health, Telecommunications, Retail
    Key Employers: Gloucestershire County Council, Ministry of Defence, Airbus UK, Kraft Foods, Endsleigh Insurance, Orange



    It has been said that the South West offers the best lifestyle choice in the country, whether this is true or not, Wiltshire certainly offers a wide range of employment opportunities.

    Agriculture is on the rise in Wiltshire, and there is also a big emphasis on food and drink as the county produces award winning competitors in the ‘Taste of the West’ Food and Drink Awards. The county has a particularly strong presence in the production of bakery, snack, confectionary and meat products, it seems Wiltshire has quite a sweet tooth!

    Wiltshire also has a long-running manufacturing industry that is going nowhere fast, 13% of the county’s employment is in this sector. There’s no limit to the type of manufacture either as Wiltshire produces all sorts of products from food and household to automotive engineering and industrial.

    It’s not just home to the more old-fashioned industries, ICT and creative industries are also growing as they receive relatively high investment.

    This county is also home to a fair few beauty spots, the Cotswolds, West Wiltshire Downs and North Wessex Downs, these areas of outstanding natural beauty bring in plenty of tourism, which provides nearly 20,000 jobs.

    Key Sectors: Agriculture, Food and Drink, Manufacturing, Tourism
    Key Employers: Virgin Mobile, Dyson, Honda



    Somerset has a growing tourism industry that is becoming increasingly important. It is home to Cheddar Gorge, various attractive coastal towns, part of the Exmoor National Park and the West Somerset Railway. Perhaps most famously, it hosts Glastonbury, the world’s largest Greenfield music and performing arts festival, though the fields are not so green afterwards. All of these attractions bring a lot of money, and in turn jobs to the county.

    Aside from Glastonbury, the other big thing Somerset is known for is its cider. The county houses brands including Blackthorn, Burrow Hill and Thatchers among others. They also dabble in some dairy production; Yeo Valley Organic and various cheese manufacturers are based here too.

    Traditionally, the county has been a big supplier of stone and aggregates, which they still do. Somerset is home to several quarries and Europe’s key supplier of limestone, Foster Yeoman.

    Key Sectors: Tourism, Food and Drink
    Key Employers: The Royal Marines, Dairycrest, Yeo Valley Organic



    Dorset it set to bring in some money, and jobs, when it hosts the sailing event for the 2012 Olympics. This will add to its already large and growing tourism industry which brings in around 3-4 million tourists a year, mainly to its beautiful coastline, and provides 37,500 jobs; 65% of these jobs are on the coastline, so if it’s a career in tourism you want, the coast is the place to be. One of the major attractions is the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, home to a lot of dinosaur fossils.

    There is a small manufacturing presence in the county that accounts for around 15% of employment, which is quite a bit lower than the national average for this sector.

    Another large employer for the county is the West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust which employs about 2,500 people in various different areas of the health sector.

    Although Dorset used to have a strong agricultural presence, this has been in decline recently and is less likely to provide a lot of career opportunities in the future like it used to.

    Key Sectors: Tourism, Health
    Key Employers: Unisys Insurance Services, Merlin Entertainments, West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust



    Though Cornwall is not exactly the richest area of the country, it still offers a variety of career opportunities. Its biggest industry at the moment is the Tourism industry; the area brings in 5 million tourists every year, mainly British holidaymakers. Cornwall’s attractive coastline, historic sites and country gardens bring lots of people in, mainly in the summer months, to sample some traditional Cornish ice cream. The county’s biggest attraction in terms of volume of visitors is the Eden Project which was opened in 2001 and brought more than 6 million visitors to Cornwall within 4 years.

    Though tourism is the county’s main earner and employer, it also has a number of smaller primary industries including fishing, agriculture and mining, mainly of tin and copper.

    Cornwall’s fastest growing sector is probably its creative sector, which includes various areas ranging from architecture and photography to all sorts of types of design including packaging, web and graphic.

    Key Sectors: Tourism, Creative, Agriculture, Private and Public Services
    Key Employers: Eden Project, Visit Cornwall, Cornwall Council, Ginsters



    Devon’s former big industries, fishing, mining and farming, have been in decline, though they do still play a role. Instead, sectors that don’t rely too much on a prime location are on the increase due to the more remote location of the county and the attractive lifestyle that it brings. Employment in the financial services sector, particularly in Dartmoor, has been on the rise for these reasons.

    Devon, specifically Exeter, is now home to the Met Office, the guys responsible for forecasting the national and international weather; they might not always get it right (I’m sure you too have been caught off-guard without an umbrella), but they do provide career opportunities for many Devon residents.

    Like much of the South West, Devon relies a lot on its tourism industry to provide employment. The county is home to two national parks, part of the ‘dinosaur’ coast and world heritage sites as well as the obviously attractive coastline and seaside towns. These attractions provide plenty of jobs in various areas of tourism, including customer service and retail.

    There is also some food and drink manufacture, WKD original vodka is manufactured here as are all the Ambrosia products.

    Key Sectors: Tourism, Financial Services, Private and Public Services
    Key Employers: The Met Office, Devon County Council, Ambrosia